Petition #20183704


The heirs of Polly Johnson state that Johnson, a feme sole, and John Cotton "lived together in a state of adultery and passed as man and wife without ever having been legally married," from 1807 until 1834 or 1835 when she died, intestate. They claim that, at the time of her death, she possessed ten slaves, worth seven thousand dollars. The slaves and the rest of the estate are now in the possession of Cotton, who pretends to have been legally married to Johnson. The petitioners assert that Johnson would have wanted the slaves and property equally divided among all her children; Cotton, however, refuses to comply with their demand. The petitioners, therefore, ask the court to prohibit Cotton from selling any slaves or property and to recognize their rightful inheritance. In his answer, Cotton asserts that he was legally married to Polly Johnson in Wayne County, North Carolina, where his father Ephraim Cotton resided. He charges, however, that the petitioners are illegitimate children, born to Polly Johnson out of wedlock before she and he were married.

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Citation information

Repository: Talladega County Judicial Building, Talladega, Alabama